Good Food and Cover

Buttonbush – Cephalanthus occidentalis


Shrub 3 to 9 feet tall. Coarse branching habit.


Twigs reddish-brown becoming grayish-brown.


Deciduous, simple, opposite or occasionally in whorls of 3, 3 to 6 inches long.


June-August. White, borne in showy round heads slightly over 1 inch in diameter.


Dry seeds clustered in a head, greenish or red tinged in early autumn, disintegrating as winter approaches.

West Virginia Range

Probably in every county.

Natural Habitat

Swamps and stream margins.

Wildlife Use

Flowers attract bees, butterflies and moths. Deer browse the foliage and twigs. Ducks, especially the mallard, eat the seeds.


Uses: Shrub border and for naturalizing in wet sites. Light: Medium to full sun. Soil Moisture: Wet to moist. Soil pH: Acid to neutral. Problems: Short lived and loses its form after a few years and must be cut back to let resprout.

Compiled by Brian McDonald, botanist, coordinator Natural Heritage Program. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins , West Virginia

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Wildlife Diveristy Program